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Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Exhibition History: Home

2019

Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll
The instruments used in rock and roll have a profound impact on this art form. Rock fans have long been fascinated with the instruments used by musicians; many seeking out and acquiring the exact models of instruments and equipment used by their idols, and spending countless hours trying to emulate their music and their look. This exhibition is co-organized with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and presents approximately 130 instruments alongside posters, photographs, and costumes. Many of rock's most celebrated and recognized instruments are featured, representing artists across generations and subgenres. In addition to institutional and private collectors, many musicians are lending their performance and recording instruments.

Woodstock at 50
Woodstock at 50 celebrates the ambition and ingenuity of those who mounted the festival to the performers who played it, gaining a deeper understanding of the various faces of Woodstock and how it changed the music industry. The exhibit features prints, performance outfits, video footage, tickets, original signage, and more.

King Records: 30 Years that Changed American Music, 1943-1971
From 1943 to 1971, Cincinnati's King Records and its subsidiaries, including Queen, DeLuxe, and Federal, revolutionized the ways in which popular music was recorded, manufactured, distributed, and promoted. Under the leadership of founder Syd Nathan, King became a major independent record label, with nearly 500 singles on the R&B, country, and pop charts, and 32 songs making it to Number One. This traveling exhibit on the history of King Records was developed to tell the unique story of this influential company beyond its home of Cincinnati. Following a symposium and exhibit at the Public Library of Cincinnati in 2008 to mark King Records’ 65th anniversary, King Studios, a nonprofit organization was formed at the original King Records headquarters. With funding from ArtsWave, King Studios board member Tim Riordan, the Community Building Institute, historian Brian Powers and designer Chris Schadler collaborated to visually present 30 years of legendary music created by King Records. While installed at the Rock Hall's Library & Archives, the traveling exhibit was enhanced with artifacts and archival items from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s collections. Over 20 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees recorded at King Records, including Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, Dave Bartholomew, James Brown and the Famous Flames, Bootsy Collins, the “5” Royales, Little Willie John, Freddy King, and Professor Longhair. In 2008, King Records was officially designated as a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame landmark. At the ceremony, then-president Terry Stewart stated, “There’s not a more important piece of real estate in musical history than the building over there on Brewster.”

2018

Something Going On: Jeff Rusnak, A Rock & Roll Life
Starting in the 1970s, Jeff Rusnak (1956-2016) was a fixture in the pits of rock clubs and concert halls in New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York City snapping hundreds of thousands of images. “Jefty” was a late-night disc jockey, musician, producer and manager at the legendary Princeton Record Exchange and an incessant photographer. In true punk rock DIY fashion, he sought out new bands, wrote for fanzine “Music Mercer Now,” and in the 1980s founded Bird O’Pray Records, a cassette label best known for launching teenage band turned alternative icons Ween. Rusnak's deep love of music permeated his life, from playing bass in local indie rock band Fünkaphobia, to his cat Fripp, named after King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. He was the longtime counter manager of the Princeton Record Exchange and attended live music events nearly every night of his adult life. A massive fan of punk, progressive and alternative rock, Jefty captured many iconic artists early in their careers, both onstage and off. The photos in this collection represent his passion – a life filled with music and musicians, from Yes in the 1970s to the Flaming Lips in the 2010s. When Jeff passed away in 2016, his family generously provided this photo collection to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to ensure it would be preserved and shared with future generations. The complete Jeff Rusnak Photography Collection is available at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Library & Archives. 

Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball
An interactive exhibit showcasing rock-themed, playable pinball machines combined with historic merchandise and artifacts to explore the artistic portrayal of artists and bands. Rock and roll and pinball have a lot in common. Loud, colorful and rebellious, it was inevitable that the two would combine to celebrate rock’s icons. Inside the exhibit you'll find machines featuring icons such as KISS, Guns 'n' Roses, Alice Cooper, Dolly Parton, The Who, Elton John and more. All the machines on display are playable by visitors. In addition, the Library & Archives exhibited Part of the Machine: The Collectible & Quirky, featuring some of the quirkier artist-related merchanding objects from the collection. Like rock & roll itself, the merchandise created to celebrate its artists takes many forms, with products that are innovative, flamboyant and at times, weird. Since its beginnings, the rock merchandising machine has artistically immortalized superstars on collectible trading cards, comic books, postage stamps, and picture discs; and rock musicians have even licensed their images for use on dolls, masks, coffins and beyond.

Stay Tuned: Rock on TV
Since exploding onto the scene in the post-war 40s, television and rock & roll have reflected social values, shaped the youth culture and created icons. In its early days, they sat at opposite ends of the table, with tv showcasing the normalcy of nuclear family and strong moral lessons, while rock & roll questioned the establishment with a rebellious attitude. But as television sets became a household fixture, advertisers sought to reach the booming youth and teenage demographic and their expendable pocket money, cracking the door for rock & roll’s acceptance into the mainstream through shows like American BandstandThe Ed Sullivan Show, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. In the multi-floor, multi-sensory, and multimedia exhibition, visitors will also see the birth of the music video, how it reached its pinnacle with the launch and domination of MTV and its sub-brands and used its technology to push music and artistry to new heights.

2017

Zombies: Spotlight Exhibit
In this exhibit, fans and visitors discovered how the band handled their success and enthusiastic fans, how ZZ Top's Frank Beard and Dusty Hill capitalized on the Zombies' popularity, and their continued influence on popular music with artists like Dave Grohl, Alex Turner (Artic Monkeys), the Shins and more. Among the items on display were Chris White's bass guitar, Rod Argent's Hohner electric pianet, sheet music for "She's Not There," Paul Atkinson's acoustic guitar from the recording of "Tell Her No," Hugh Grundy's Ludwig snare drum used on all of the Zombies' 1960s recordings, and the artwork for the band’s critically acclaimed Odessey and Oracle album by Terry Quirk

Rolling Stone / 50 Years: Retrospective
An in-depth look behind the scenes of Rolling Stone's legacy. In the summer of love, a young Jann Wenner set out to start “sort of a magazine and sort of a newspaper.” The idea was to give music lovers more than what pulpy teen magazines and outdated fan magazines had to offer. Wenner was ambitious—he wanted to cover in depth not only the music of the time but also the culture it shaped, its ripple throughout current events, politics and social attitudes. Fifty years later, Rolling Stone is and remains the standard for music journalism.

Rapper's Delight Retrospective
Rapper's Delight was an exhibit on the history of hip-hop: not only a monument to rappers past but a peek into the future. In 2017, Tupac Shakur was inducted, and rap's prominence was only rising. This exhibit highlighted the similarities between rock and hip-hop through handwritten lyrics, jewelry, costumes, and sketches of stage designs and hand-drawn posters advertising Ice-T at Lollapalooza 1991, where the do-it-yourself aesthetic was unmistakable, as present in the underground hip-hop scene as it was in Riot Grrrl's Pacific Northwest or CBGB's.

Summer of Love Turns 50
Fifty years ago, the epicenter of counterculture, the San Francisco neighborhood Haight-Ashbury, attracted young people by the thousands. Though an eclectic group, they often shared similar beliefs: experimentation, a rejection of consumerist values, peace, a general opposition toward the Vietnam War, and a passion for music. The Summer of Love Turns 50 celebrated a time when musicians were looked to as a collective mouthpiece for a generation. Exhibit artifacts included Jimi Hendrix’s purple velvet jacket and recording console used for his “Summer of Love” recordings; a guitar played by Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (Grateful Dead); clothing worn by Michelle Phillips (Mamas and the Papas); iconic concert posters from the Fillmore, Avalon Ballroom and others and original artwork by Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane. In addition, the Library & Archives showcased concert handbills featuring the visual artists who reflected the culture’s vibrancy.

Mellencamp
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Mellencamp told the story of a complex artist who forged his own path—tranforming manager-named "Johnny Cougar" to self-possessed John Mellencamp, a music and visual artist, a champion of heartland values, and an advocate for American farmers. The exhibit was comprised mainly of artifacts from Mellencamp's personal collection, including his 1966 silver Honda Scrambler 305 motorcycle, photographs and ephemera, handwritten lyrics, clothing, Dove acoustic guitar used from the 1970s through the 1990s in live performances and songwriting sessions, six original paintings, and selections from an exclusive multi-hour interview with Mellencamp done for the exhibit.

Girls to the Front: Photography by Anastasia Pantsios
Pantsios’ work showed the power that women have on stage beginning in 1969 with her shot of Grace Slick. The exhibit traced women in rock through 2006, and featured many recognizable artists, staples of classic rock and Top 40 radio, but Pantsios also photographed lesser known artists whose influence should not be forgotten, such as Plasmatics frontwoman Wendy O. Williams. Another focal point to the exhibit was that some of these women were members of bands rather than solo artists. Rather than merely relegated to the role of "hot chick singer" or hiding behind their instrument, Pantsios' photographs allow them to shine on their own—Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads as an example.

2016

Louder Than Words: Rock, Power, Politics
Using video, multimedia, photographs, periodicals and artifacts, Louder Than Words showcased the intersection between rock and politics. It explored how artists exercised their First Amendment rights, challenged assumptions and beliefs, stimulated thought and effectedchange. Beyond music’s influence on the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and gender equality, the exhibit also featured other significant moments and figures, such as Bob Dylan, who rallied people against social inequality, the hip-hop music of the 80s that discussed police brutality in poverty stricken neighborhoods, and Pussy Riot, who utilized their music as an outlet for social activism in Russia. An exhibit at the Library & Archives spotlighted the Riot Grrrl movement, its influences and those performers who, in turn, it influenced.

Graham Nash: Touching the Flame
"Graham Nash: Touching the Flame" explored how rock and roll shaped the world and inspired some of history's most powerful figures. With Graham Nash as narrator, the exhibit utilized the two-time Hall of Fame Inductee’s personal collection as a guide to the highs and lows, tumult and joys of the last half century. Pieces from Nash's heroes and inspirations—the Beatles, Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, Beach Boys, Buddy Holly, and Duane Allman—and treasures from his time with the Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash came to life with Nash's reflections on the visceral and profound impact of the music and world events on him and those around him.

Backstage Stories
Focused on the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a concert tour, this exhibit included stage designs, handwritten set lists, performance contract riders, press passes, and more.

Jane Scott: Never Too Old for Rock & Roll! (Library & Archives)
Documented the life of Jane Scott, rock music writer for The Plain Dealer for 40 years; one of the country's first daily newspaper reporters specializing in the genre. Artifacts included photographs, autographs from those she interviewed over the years, newspaper article clippings, and notes taken at local shows.

2015

Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits 
Presented in collaboration with the Herb Ritts Foundation, the exhibit includes over 100 portraits from the revolutionary photographer and filmmaker's collection (with 30 never-before-seen images), firsthand accounts from musicians on what it was like to work with Ritts, a sampling of his award-winning music videos, and contact sheets with Ritts’ red-pencil markings. Ritts photographed some of the world’s biggest music stars. He made startlingly intimate portraits that showed artists as the world had never seen them. Never-before-seen photographs of artists featured in The Rock Portraits exhibit include David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Janet Jackson, Elton John, BB King, Madonna, Prince, Rod Stewart, Justin Timberlake and more.

Never Give Up: Alternative Press Magazine at 30
When Alternative Press was founded, mainstream music publications mainly covered arena rockers like Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, and Bruce Springsteen. Music on the fringes—punk, new wave, hardcore—had yet to be labeled "alternative," and its fans had few sources for information. After 30 years, Alternative Press is still going strong because the magazine has always respected the artists and the audience. And it never condescended to either. It's always been about the music, and, true to their mantra, they have never given up. The exhibit includes rarely seen 1994 Alternative Press cover photo proofs featuring the Beastie Boys, along with Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana from the AP archives; letters to the magazine from Henry Rollins; instruments played by Tim Armstrong of Rancid, Byron McMackin of Pennywise, Zach Farro of Paramore, and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte; and clothing worn by Joan Jett, Jay Bentley of Bad Religion, Jennifer Finch of L7, and Bert McCracken of the Used.

Lyrics...
Blown up images of lyrics from the Library & Archives collections. 

2014

Common Ground: The Museum Festival Experience
Spanning two floors of the Museum, the exhibit surrounded visitors with the sights and sounds of a rock festival to evoke the experience in a visceral way, utilizing video of the iconic festivals of the past and the vibrant, constantly evolving events of the present, with an emphasis on establishing a “you are there” environment. The first level of the exhibit took visitors through a fast-paced history of popular music festivals with large photographs, artifacts and short documentary films. The second level of the exhibit presented an immersive experience designed to place the visitor squarely into the festival experience. The space represented a performance tent at a festival and visitors encountered a 20 minute film representing a fast moving day at a festival told through a cinematic mash-up of performances, sights, sounds, words and communal energy of iconic music festivals from the past seven decades. The main screen was complimented with synchronized images and lighting that evoked the feeling of day turning into night.

Fresh, Wild, Fly and Bold: Photos from the Joe Conzo, Jr. Hip-Hop Collection
This exhibition included a selection of 26 photos from the early days of hip-hop by photographer Joe Conzo. The photos came from the Cornell University Hip-Hop collection. Called “the man who took Hip-Hop’s baby pictures” by the New York Times, Joe Conzo captured images of the South Bronx between 1977 and 1984, including early hip hop jams, street scenes, and Latin music performers and events. In 1978, while attending South Bronx High School, Conzo became friends with members of the Cold Crush Brothers, an important and influential early hip-hop group. Conzo became the group’s photographer, documenting their live performances.

Paul Simon: Words and Music
This exhibition featured exclusive candid commentary gathered from hours of filmed interview footage that walks the audience through the personal story of Simon’s life and his creative process. This opening marked the Museum’s first-ever exhibit anchored by first-person narration by the artist. In addition to the autobiographical films, there were videos of select performance highlights from Simon’s five-decade career and a collection of more than 80 artifacts spanning his early life and time with Simon & Garfunkel, through his solo career and to the present. A spotlight exhibit was held at the Library & Archives, focused on the lyrical development of "The Boxer."

Sweet Soul Music: FAME Studios and the Muscle Shoals Sound (Library & Archives)
Established in 1959 by Rick Hall, Billy Sherrill and Tom Stafford, Florence Alabama Music Enterprises became the foundation for what has come to be known as the “Muscle Shoals Sound.” With a presence as distinct as that of Motown or Sun Records, FAME Studios represented the confluence of country, gospel, and rhythm and blues music with a subtle emphasis on bass guitar and kick drum sounds. In stark contrast to the charted arrangements heard in other popular recording studios of the time, the FAME studio sessions were characterized by the rhythm section’s improvisatory performances, responding to and supporting the melody or most prominent section of each song. The recording style encouraged true musical collaboration, which resulted in an undeniably unique sound that put Muscle Shoals on the musical map. The exhibit illustrated the influence of FAME over many popular artists, including several Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees: Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Little Richard, Otis Redding, and Duane Allman.

2013

Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction 
This was the first major comprehensive retrospective exhibition capturing the band’s legendary career spanning more than 50 years. It celebrated the Rolling Stones’ incredible contribution to popular music from their earliest days playing small clubs, to their era-defining recordings such as “Gimme Shelter,” “Paint It Black,” “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Tumbling Dice,” “It’s Only Rock And Roll” and sold-out global tours. Through the use of artifacts, film, text and interactive technology, generations of music fans had the opportunity to get up close and personal with rare items from nearly every aspect of the Stones’ astonishing five decades at the top.

Collecting the Counterculture: Julio Santo Domingo, Jr.
This exhibit was an exclusive look into the private collection of one of the world’s most passionate collectors. It showcased a number of extraordinary and whimsical objects that Santo Domingo obtained over the course of his lifetime. Santo Domingo (1958-2009) was a Colombian businessman who devoted himself to amassing one of the world’s largest private collections exploring man’s relationship with sex, drugs, the occult, social taboos, popular culture and rock and roll.

Through the Lens of Jimmy Baynes: Cleveland Rock and Roll History, 1950s-1960s (Library & Archives)
Following the lively Cleveland music scene was postal worker Jimmy H. Baynes (July 12, 1922 – September 9, 2010), who supplemented his weekly paycheck through Baynes Foto Service at 2220 East 87th Street, primarily photographing local events in the African-American community. Though Baynes was not a trained photographer, the images he created over the three decades, from the 1950s into the 1980s provide an authentic and candid glimpse into African-American life, music and culture. The bulk of the photographs in the Jimmy Baynes Collection feature prominent jazz, R&B, and rock and roll musicians of the 1950s and 1960s, including the likes of Louis Armstrong, Ruth Brown, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Louis Jordan, Memphis Slim and Lloyd Price. Also included in the collection are images of local performers, radio deejays, and venues—some long forgotten and left unidentified but for Baynes’ tireless work.

2012

1950s Radio in Color: the Lost Photographs of Cleveland Deejay Tommy Edwards
The exhibit featured more than 30 images of 1950s music, film and television stars, including Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and some surprises like Michael Landon and Henry Fonda – all in glorious Ektachrome color. As a prominent deejay at WERE in Cleveland, Edwards enjoyed unprecedented access to rock, pop and country music’s biggest stars. Capturing artists as they visited WERE’s studios to plug their latest record, or at the many high-school sock hops that he presented between 1955 and 1960, Edwards shot more than 1,700 slides.

Grateful Dead: The Long, Strange Trip
The exhibit explored the 30-year career of a group who wrote its own rules and created a community unlike any band before. Individual sections were devoted to the Grateful Dead as a recording group and a touring band and to the fans that devotedly followed the group. The exhibit included finished and working manuscripts from classic songs, and an unprecedented collection of original artwork and numerous instruments used by the band over the years.

Just Can’t Get Enough: The Photography of Robert Alford
The exhibit featured images by Robert Alford and offered a snapshot into the world of some of the most influential and successful artists from the last three decades of rock and roll. A leading music photographer, Robert Alford has had his work featured in CreemRolling Stone and People magazines and on television, album covers and liner notes. The extensive list of musicians he has photographed reads like a "who's who" of popular music, from AC/DC to ZZ Top.

Chuck Berry: Spotlight Exhibit
The exhibit opened to the public to coincide with Berry’s 86th birthday and kicked-off the 17th annual American Music Masters® series, Roll Over Beethoven: The Life and Music of Chuck Berry. The exhibit demonstrated a lifetime of brilliant musicianship that has inspired nearly every rock artist to date. It included exclusive artifacts from Berry’s life such as his 1998 Samick San 450 guitar that features his trademark double-string, semi-hollow electric acoustic style, a vest worn at the Toronto Rock and Roll Festival in 1969 and a Chuck Berry/Chess Records recording contract from 1958. The Library & Archives also featured a complimentary exhibit of sheet music and handbills.

Two-Tone: Spotlight Exhibit
This exhibition focused on the history of influential British record label Two-Tone and featured handwritten lyrics, photographs, singles, instruments, apparel items and more from numerous bands on the legendary label. Between 1979 and 1986, the Two-Tone label released 28 singles, including hits by the Specials, the Selecter, Madness, the Bodysnatchers and the Beat, known as the English Beat outside of the U.K. Two-Tone laid the groundwork for the success of such American artists as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Fishbone, Sublime, Reel Big Fish and the multi-platinum selling No Doubt.

Ahmet Ertegun: The Early Years, 1923-1949 (Library & Archives)
Ahmet Ertegun’s early life, as the privileged son of a Turkish ambassador, helped to shape his future interests, and who he was to become: one of the most significant figures in the modern recording industry, co-founder of Atlantic Records in 1947 with partner Herb Abramson. Atlantic was at the forefront of great independent labels that sprang up in the late 1940s, challenging the primacy of the major labels of the time (RCA, Columbia and Decca) by discovering, developing and nurturing new talent. Under the guiding hand of Ertegun and his older brother Nesuhi—both lifelong jazz and blues aficionados—Atlantic soon became the nation’s premier rhythm & blues label.

Raw Power: Researching the Evolution of Punk Rock (Library & Archives)
Documented the origins of punk through several city scenes, including that of New York, L.A., Detroit, Cleveland, and the British scene, specifically focusing on the Velvet Underground, Sex Pistols, the Clash, Misfits, MC5, Talking Heads, Ramones, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, the Dead Boys, Black Flag, and X.

2011

Girls on Film: 40 Years of Women in Rock 
This exhibit, featuring images by Cleveland photographer Anastasia Pantsios, offers a snapshot into the world of some of the most influential women in rock and roll over the last four decades, starting with Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick in 1969 and continuing through contemporary star Gwen Stefani. After the exhibit closed in Cleveland, it was offered as a traveling.

Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power
Women Who Rock shines a spotlight on more than 70 artists and features guitars, stage outfits, original lyrics and videos, as well as a recording booth where visitors can film a short story or moment of inspiration related to women in rock. Visitors follow the journey of the female artist and discover how women have been the engines of creation and change in popular music, from the early years of the 20th century to the present. After the exhibit closed in Cleveland, it traveled to five other museums – The National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Durham Museum, Experience Music Project, the Musical Instrument Museum and the Henry Ford.

Otis Redding Exhibit
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum celebrated the life and music of Hall of Fame inductee Otis Redding with a spotlight exhibition in honor of what would have been Redding's 70th birthday on September 9th. The exhibit featured more than 20 artifacts representing Redding's career. Highlights included a promotional poster announcing the release of Otis Redding’s original version of “Respect” from 1965, a master tape box for the recording of “You Left the Water Running” and a sweater Redding wore onstage.

American Music Masters® 16th Anniversary Photography Exhibit
The exhibit includes nearly 30 images that offer a visual retrospective of past performances. American Music Masters® celebrates the lives and careers of artists who changed the shape and sound of American culture. Each year, the series explores the legacy of a pioneering figure with a range of events that includes exhibits, lectures, films, a major conference and a tribute concert benefitting the Museum’s Education Department.

Interior Renovations to the Museum’s Permanent Exhibits
The Museum’s exhibits were rearranged so that they now tell the story of rock and roll in a more chronological order. All of the audio and video installations were upgraded to state of the art, as were the interactive kiosks. Several new exhibits were added, including exhibits about heavy metal, the Midwest rock scene and Cleveland’s rock history. The Museum’s Beatles exhibit was expanded to include more artifacts and a new video. In addition, new interactive kiosks were installed on the Museum’s second floor. And a new ticketing system and information desk were installed in the main lobby.

2010

Great Music. No Limits. – Celebrating 35 Years of Austin City Limits
Celebrating its 35th season, Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in American television history. Showcasing roots music, legends and innovative popular music from every genre, the series has become a music icon and has helped build Austin's reputation as the "Live Music Capital of the World." ACL is the only television program to ever receive the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest award for artistic excellence, and was recently selected as a Rock and Roll Landmark by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The exhibit included photographs, set lists, contracts, program logs, tickets and other items from the show. A film featuring show highlights from the last 35 years was also featured.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s 15th Anniversary
This exhibit included photographs representing the highlights of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s last 15 years. The photographs were displayed on the Museum’s 3rd floor.

Elvis 1956: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer
Organized in conjunction with Govinda Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Taken in 1956, Alfred Wertheimer’s photographs documented Elvis Presley at the quintessential moment of his explosive appearance onto the cultural landscape. The exhibition of more than forty gelatin-silver prints captured the future legend in rehearsal and performance, reading fan mail, visiting with a high school sweetheart, sitting alone in a diner and riding the rails on a trip back home. The poignant images portray an innocent period in Presley’s life soon to vanish in the wake of his superstardom, and constitute an important visual document of post-World War II America.

2009

Motown: The Sound of Young America Turns 50
This exhibit paid tribute to Motown’s 50th Anniversary. Included in the exhibit were instruments, clothing, programs, posters, sheet music, original music scores, recordings and other items representing an array of Motown’s biggest stars. Highlighted collections pieces included Stevie Wonder’s glasses and Superbowl 1999 “African American” outfit, “Red Hot,” an outfit worn by Mary Wilson of the Supremes on the Ed Sullivan Show, James Jamerson’s upright bass played on all of his Motown recording sessions until 1963.

Sepia Magazine Photo Archive, 1948-1983: 35 Years of the African-American Experience in Music
As America experienced a growth in consciousness with the civil rights era, Sepia magazine was a clear and steady voice of the African-American community. Often referred to as the equivalent of Life magazine for black Americans, Sepia documented politics, culture and lifestyle. This exhibit showcased over 40 images originally published in Sepia, some not seen since their original publication, of African-American musical figures that shaped not just black culture, but the entire world. 

From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen
The exhibit was a comprehensive look at Springsteen’s career, from such early bands as Child, the Castiles and Steel Mill through his work with the E Street Band and as a solo artist. The exhibit included several of Springsteen’s guitars, including the Fender Telecaster that is on the cover of Born to Run. It also included the outfit he wore on the cover of Born in the U.S.A., as well as numerous handwritten lyric manuscripts, posters and handbills from all phases of his career, and various awards and honors. In addition, the exhibit featured Springsteen’s 1960 Chevrolet Corvette, which he purchased after the success of Born to Run.

Live from Madison Square Garden: Photos by George Kalinsky
George Kalinsky has been the principal staff photographer at Madison Square Garden since the late 1960s and has documented nearly every important concert at the venue. The exhibit included iconic images such as John Lennon performing onstage with Elton John in 1974, the Rolling Stones’ first MSG show in 1969, Sly Stone's wedding in 1974 and various 1969 shows, including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the Doors.  It also featured photographs from Elvis Presley’s one-and-only appearance in 1972 and the Concert for New York, a benefit concert in honor of the victims of the 09/11, headlined by Paul McCartney.

Woodstock: The 40th Anniversary
The Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, which was held 40 years ago in Bethel, New York, was the embodiment of the peace and hippie movement and provided a triumphant exclamation point for the 1960s.  Yes, there were crippling traffic jams and plenty of drugs, nudity, rain and mud. But there was also the music – three days of iconic performances from an unprecedented array of artists. This exhibit told the story of the festival, utilizing a vast array of artifacts from Woodstock executive producer Michael Lang and many of the artists who appeared at the festival. Highlights included the original stage plans, clothing worn by John Sebastian and Stephen Stills, posters, contracts and other key documents.

2008

All Access with Kevin Mazur
In this special exhibit, music and photography enthusiasts had the opportunity to view rock and roll icons in an up-close and personal way, through the revealing camera lens of world-famous photographer Kevin Mazur. Over the past 25 years, Mazur has managed to capture legendary rock and rollers in a moment -- lasting no longer than the blink of an eye -- illuminating the true nature of the artist and the raw power of some of the most memorable rock concerts in history.

Take Me Out: Baseball Rocks!
This exhibit examined the relationship between popular music and America’s pastime, baseball. The exhibit looked at baseball as a 19th-century pop-culture phenomenon through displays of sheet music, sports memorabilia, advertising material and early cylinder and disc recordings. Sheet music for the best-selling recording of 1908, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” was one of the featured artifacts. The exhibit also covered the early- to mid-20th Century and focused on musical tributes to the stars of the golden era of baseball. A highlight of the exhibit was a collection of filmed interviews with members of the Cleveland Indians, who talked about their favorite artists and songs.

Mike McCartney’s Liverpool Life
Mike McCartney’s Liverpool Life featured incredible black-and-white photographs documenting the origins of the British Invasion. As a photographer, McCartney had access to some of the greatest rock and roll stars who played at such venues as the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton and Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club. His photographs show various aspects of the rock-star lifestyle, from the adrenaline of Little Richard onstage, to a considerably more relaxed Graham Nash snoozing on a train. Other musicians captured by McCartney’s lens include Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy J. Kramer, Jeff Beck and the Hollies. Exclusive to the Cleveland exhibition, Mike McCartney, in consultation with his brother Paul, chose several additional photographs that feature members of the Beatles.

WMMS: A Cleveland Legend Turns 40
Since it first went on the air 40 years ago on September 28, 1968, Cleveland’s WMMS radio station has earned a coveted place in the history of FM radio. The station played a key role in breaking such rock icons as David Bowie, Roxy Music, Rush and Bruce Springsteen.  Along with its impressive playlist, the station has been home to such legendary deejays. The WMMS exhibit featured a variety of artifacts, including David Helton’s original artwork for the station’s Buzzard logo, airchecks from the deejays, original photos, gold and platinum records, interoffice memos and video and listening stations.

Cleveland Rocks: The Birthplace of Rock and Roll – Photographs by George Shuba
George Shuba was a ubiquitous figure on the Cleveland area music scene in the 1960s. Shuba got his big break in music photography when he accepted a gig in 1964 with Upbeat, a syndicated weekly television show in Cleveland that featured performances of the hottest rock and pop acts of the day. For the next 40 years, his passion for photographing the Cleveland rock and roll scene was proven time and time again through his work. Cleveland Rocks focused on the years 1963-69, when the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Jackie Wilson, and the Doors sent local teens into joyful hysterics.

Sparkle & Twang: Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey
This exhibit included an astounding array of performance costumes, accessories, handwritten lyrics, personal letters and instruments from country, rockabilly, bluegrass and southern gospel greats collected by country music artist Marty Stuart. Stuart made it his mission to make sure that these cultural treasures were collected and preserved, and he obtained some of the pieces from Nashville thrift stores. More than 300 artifacts were featured in this exhibit, including items like Hank Williams’ handwritten lyrics to “Cold, Cold Heart,” a Johnny Cash stage suit from 1955, Pops Staples’ Fender Jaguar guitar, Patsy Cline’s boots and dress, and stage clothing from Bob Dylan. This exhibit was organized by the Tennessee State Museum.

2007

Warped – 12 Years of Music, Mayhem and More
The Museum worked with the Tour’s management to create an exhibit that documented the story of the Warped Tour -- America’s longest-running touring festival. The exhibit recognized the cultural relevance of the tour and its significance to the punk-rock/skate community. It told the story of the festival and its impact on the music world, and featured memorabilia from NOFX, New Found Glory, My Chemical Romance, Dropkick Murphys, Bouncing Souls, Rancid and many, many more. Once the exhibit ended, the items were put into a “time capsule” to be stored at the Museum for 25 years.

Break on Through: The Lasting Legacy of the Doors
This well-received exhibit provided a career overview and an examination of the unmatched durability of the Doors on their 40th anniversary. Produced with the full blessing and cooperation of the Doors, artifacts from this exhibit were provided by Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, the estate of Jim Morrison, the Doors Music Co. and several collectors. The exhibit featured instruments, rare manuscripts, production notes, audio, video and photographs.

Catch a Wave: The Beach Boys, the Early Years
More than any other artistic entity, the Beach Boys created the iconic vision of California as the Promised Land for those who would revel in youth, surf, sand, and rock and roll. The exhibit explored their formative years through never-before seen artifacts. The core of the exhibit was composed of objects from Audree Wilson, mother of Beach Boys Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson. These items included school yearbooks and handwritten lyrics to such songs as “Be True to Your School” and “God Only Knows.”  Other artifacts included Carl Wilson’s 12-string Rickenbacker guitar and Dennis Wilson’s Gretsch drum kit.

Monterey Pop: Rock’s Legendary Festival
This exhibit was dedicated to the 40th anniversary of this legendary festival that took place during the Summer of Love. The Monterey Pop Festival, held in June of 1967, was a completely innovative and monumentally influential event in American cultural history. The exhibit was made possible because of the generous donations from Lou Adler and D.A. Pennebaker. The expansive collection of artifacts included telegrams from Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead and the Who regarding their attendance in the festival, Paul Simon’s guitar, the dress that Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas wore at their headlining appearance, Pennebaker’s movie camera and various photographs that capture the essence of Monterey International Pop Festival.

Rock and Roll: Lynn Goldsmith
The Museum was home to the worldwide debut of Rock and Roll: Lynn GoldsmithGoldsmith is an award-winning portrait photographer whose work has appeared in such magazines as LifeNewsweekTimeRolling Stone and Sports Illustrated. Coinciding with the release of her new book, Rock and Roll, the Museum displayed Goldsmith’s work of such legendary rock figures as David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and the Beatles. The exhibit became a touring exhibit organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Help! Behind the Scenes of the Beatles’ Movie
This exhibit focused on the making of the Beatles' second feature-length film, Help! The exhibit, which was timed to the November 6 release of the film on DVD, included many never-before-seen artifacts and set photography shot during the making of the movie. The exhibit featured George Harrison’s original script for the film, and a reproduction of Richard Lester’s working script with handwritten changes, various shooting schedules and call sheets, posters, tickets to the U.S. premiere of the film at the Beacon Theater in New York City, press kits and promotional items. It also included costumes worn by the Beatles in the film, and instruments played in the film. 

2006

Haunting & Yearning: The Life and Music of Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison was rock and roll’s Caruso. He was a balladeer who specialized in elegant reveries on the subject of love. Orbison’s sumptuous, sophisticated pop hits include “Only the Lonely,” “Blue Bayou” and “It’s Over.” On the rock and roll side, he cut his biggest hit, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” in 1964. The singer was enjoying a successful comeback, on his own and with the Traveling Wilburys, when he died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988. The exhibition tells Orbison’s story through rare records, memorabilia and personal artifacts covering his life and career, including clothing, instruments and pieces from his model plane collection.

Bob Dylan’s American Journey, 1956-1966
Curated by Experience Music Project in Seattle, the exhibit featured more than 150 artifacts, including Dylan’s 1949 Martin 00-19 guitar, typed and handwritten lyrics, rare concert posters and handbills, signed albums, and dozens of photographs. At the center of the exhibit were four films exploring different facets of Dylan’s career, with rare performance footage and interviews with Dylan and other artists. In addition, three viewing stations allowed visitors to watch excerpts from the Dylan films Don’t Look Back and Eat the Document, as well as an interview with Dylan himself. Throughout the exhibit space were seven listening stations that enabled visitors to hear Dylan’s musical evolution and innovations during this 10-year period.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: A Southern Accent
2006 marked the 30th anniversary of the debut release by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Since 1976, they have set the standard for great American rock bands with a succession of classic records and a fantastic live show. This exhibit will feature key instruments, clothing seen in videos and on stage, and an unprecedented collection of original lyric manuscripts.

Revolution Rock: The Story of the Clash
The Clash defined punk rock’s sound and fury no less authoritatively than the Sex Pistols. Unlike that short-lived group, however, the Clash survived into the Eighties, amassing a formidable body of work. Led by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, the Clash offered militant politics tempered by hope. Their strongest albums, London Calling and Sandinista!, balanced the raw power of punk with forays into reggae and rockabilly. Throughout their career, the Clash held fast to their convictions, making music that rocked with a conscience. The exhibition examined the music and lives of the Clash through a display of well-known instruments, stage clothing, rare memorabilia and never-before-seen original manuscripts and artifacts from the band. Among the highlights were Mick Jones’ Gibson Les Paul Jr., Joe Strummer’s Fender Telecaster and handwritten lyrics for “Tommy Gun,” “Know Your Rights” and “Clampdown.”

The Color of Rock: The Art of Philip Burke
Philip Burke’s unique and vivid portraits of celebrities from politics, business, sports and the arts have been featured in more than 200 magazines and newspapers, including TimeNewsweekVanity FairThe New YorkerGQ, and Vogue, just to name a few. Many of his subjects over the past 25 years have been rock stars and Burke was the featured artist at Rolling Stone for seven years. The exhibit at the Museum featured Burke’s rock and roll paintings.

2005

Listen to the Music: Rock and Roll and the Evolution of Audio Technology
This exhibit examines technological developments and their impact on the evolution of rock and roll and its roots and on the experience of listening to rock music. The exhibit includes artifacts such as a RCA Radiola III Radio (1923), Ampex Reel to Reel Recorder (c. 1945), Westinghouse Stereophonic Record Player (c. 1967), Sony Discman CD Player (1983), and Sirius Satellite Radio System (2005). In addition, a graphic timeline highlights the milestones of this technological progression and listening kiosks allow visitors to hear 18 recordings made by Thomas Edison from 1877 to 1929.

Tommy: The Amazing Journey
This exhibition focused on the Who’s legendary rock opera. Tommy: The Amazing Journey examined the evolution of Tommy from its origins as a rock album through is various incarnations. The exhibition featured Townshend’s handwritten manuscripts and production notes as well as costumes, instruments, posters and other artifacts from the numerous manifestations of Tommy.

The Influence of Rock and Roll 
This was a juried exhibition organized in conjunction with the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) Conference held in Cleveland, June 22-25, 2005.  The theme of the conference was the intersection of jewelry, metalwork and enameling with industrial design, the “fine arts” and fashion. Artists were invited to submit works that were influenced by some element of rock music – a lyric, song title, album, artist, style of music, event, etc. The works displayed at the Museum were created within the last two years and demonstrated the quality and rich diversity within the field of metalsmithing.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum: 10 Years, 1995-2005 
On September 1, 2005, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum celebrated its tenth anniversary. What began as a dream in the eyes of civic leaders and hundreds of thousands of Cleveland rock and roll fans is a reality that has welcomed many successes during its first decade. To commemorate, the Museum unveiled a new exhibit documenting some the milestones in the Museum’s history so far with photos, memorabilia and a video presentation.

George Harrison and the Concert for Bangladesh 
The Concert for Bangladesh was the first benefit concert of its kind. It brought together an extraordinary group of major artists collaborating for a common humanitarian cause. The concert, organized by George Harrison, sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City and, along with the Grammy-winning triple-album box set and the feature film, has generated millions of dollars for UNICEF and raised awareness for the organization around the world. To celebrate this groundbreaking concert, the Museum created a special exhibit with artifacts that included George Harrison’s original lyrics to the song “Bangla Desh,” Ravi Shankar’s sitar, a vest worn by Ringo Starr and a suit worn by Harrison at the concert, the original album art and more. A newly filmed documentary about the concerts was shown in the gallery, while the original concert film played in one of the Museum’s theaters.

Sam Cooke: A Change is Gonna Come
Sam Cooke, considered by many to be the definitive soul singer and crossover artist, a model for African-American entrepreneurship and one of the first performers to use music as a tool for social change, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the inaugural group of 1986. The Museum created a Sam Cooke exhibit in conjunction with 2005’s American Music Masters events. The exhibit featured items from Cooke’s career, some of which were on display for the first time anywhere, including commendations and music industry awards, wardrobe items and other personal belongings, in addition to contracts, photographs, advertisements, concert programs and records.

Rick Nelson: From Idol to Icon
In remembrance of Rick Nelson's untimely death 20 years ago, the Museum paid tribute to this early pop icon with an exhibition of never before seen artifacts, including instruments, clothing, and handwritten lyrics. The exhibit, which was divided into four sections, highlighting different aspects of his life, also included footage from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet television show. 

2004

The New Sound: Les Paul and the Electric Guitar 
This exhibit features numerous artifacts related to Les Paul’s life and career. Among the key items are the very first guitar he owned as a child, his first attempt to make an electric solid-body guitar out of a wood plank, the “Clunker” (which he used on his most famous recordings) and a very early model Les Paul. The exhibit also includes artifacts from his childhood home (a record player, radio, etc.), as well as other inventions and innovations. In addition, a vintage TV shows clips from The Les Paul, & Mary Ford at Home Show, which was a long-running television series that aired nationally from their living room five nights a week from 1953 – 1960. There are also two interactive kiosks on which visitors can access an oral history with Les.

Reflections: The Mary Wilson Supreme Legacy Collection
On April 28, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Supremes' first Number One hit, "Where Did Our Love Go," the Rock Hall, in partnership with original Supreme member, Mary Wilson, opened Reflections which featured over 50 Supremes costumes and rare memorabilia. The collection included the first gown purchased by Mary, Diana and Florence when they were still the Primettes, the pearl and sequin-encrusted gowns worn during the legendary 1968 Royal Command Performance in London, outfits worn on the Supremes' television specials and featured on album covers and those from their 1977 Farewell Performance. The exhibit then traveled to several venues in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

American Music
This collection of over 60 photos by renowned portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, debuted at Experience Music Project in November 2003 coinciding with the release of Leibovitz’s new book by the same name and included many of her never before seen photographs. For four years, Leibovitz criss-crossed the United States going to juke joints in the Mississippi Delta, honkytonks in Texas, and jazz clubs in New Orleans chronicling the musicians and the places that have shaped the development of popular music. Highlighting the exhibit were audio clips by Leibovitz, who shared her tales of the people and places in each image.

Shine a Light On Me: The Life and Music of Lead Belly
This exhibit focused on 2004’s American Music Master honoree, Lead Belly, and included numerous documents, photographs and other artifacts. Highlights of the exhibit included the earliest known photograph of Lead Belly, various documents relating to his two incarcerations and the Proclamation of Pardon issued from the governor of Texas, a floor pass to FDR’s unprecedented third inaugural celebration, and Lead Belly’s primary recording and performance instrument, a 1935 12-string Stella acoustic guitar.

The Genius of Ray Charles
On December 1, 2004, the Museum fulfilled a wish that was long in the making. The exhibit opened amid celebration and bittersweet reflection and revealed a rarely seen personal side of one of the most recognizable artists of all time. A collection of artifacts included three keyboards from Charles’ personal studio, his alto saxophone, a selection of Braille publications, sunglasses, stage clothes and a few of the innumerable awards Ray Charles received during his storied career. A Braille text panel was also created for this exhibit to share with visitors the experience of reading in Braille.

2003

In the Name of Love: Two Decades of U2
In the two decades since the release of their first album, Boy, U2 has established itself as one of the most adventurous and groundbreaking bands in the history of rock and roll. During that time, U2 has evolved from a virtually unknown, punk-influenced group of young Dubliners into a band that sells millions of albums and fills sports stadiums around the world. In total, the exhibit on the Museum’s 5th and 6th floors featured nearly 20 full outfits, plus jackets, shirts, hats and other clothing items. Other artifacts included schematics and drawings of various stage sets and an architectural model of the Pop Mart set.

Hang on Sloopy: The Music of Ohio
Throughout the 20th century, Ohio has been blessed with an enormous amount of musical talent within its borders. “Hang on Sloopy: The Music of Ohio” examines the long history of Ohio pop music through the use of artifacts (instruments, costumes, original recordings), photographs and music. The exhibit includes a soundtrack of top hits by Ohio artists, and focuses on particular cities and their impact on popular music. Visitors see and feel the influence that popular music has had in Ohio, and the impact that Ohio’s talent has had on the world of rock and roll.

The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were
Conceived by music archivist Michael Ochs and fine artist Craig Butler, this project took album cover art to a whole new level. One hundred established graphic and fine artists were approached to create the definitive album cover of their favorite recording artist. Each chose an iconic musical subject from the 1940s to the present and from the genres of rock, blues, jazz, country and soul music. The result was an original and highly creative collection of contemporary art. This exhibition, organized by the Museum, traveled to several subsequent venues in California, Texas and Louisiana.

Stealing Hearts at a Traveling Show: The Graphic Design of U2 by FOUR5ONE CREATIVE
In conjunction with the exhibition, In the Name of Love: Two Decades of U2, the Museum showcased the designs of Steve Averill and his team at Four5One, who have been working with U2 from the very beginning. This exhibit, dedicated to the “look” of U2, included album cover concepts that have never been used, as well as many of the well-known graphics associated with the look of U2 through the years.

Rave On: The Life and Music of Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly played rock and roll for only two short years, but the wealth of material he recorded in that time made a major and lasting impact on popular music. Holly's catalog of songs includes such standards of the rock and roll canon as "Rave On," "Peggy Sue," "That'll Be the Day," Oh Boy!" and "Maybe Baby."  As part of the annual American Music Masters Series, the Museum featured an exhibition dedicated to Buddy Holly with a special collection of artifacts on loan from the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas.

Rock My Soul: The Black Legacy of Rock and Roll
Rock and Roll emerged in the mid-1950s as a hybrid form that blended many regional and ethnic strains of music. Rock’s strongest roots were based in African-American styles of music: the blues, R&B, jazz and doo-wop. These styles, in turn, had their own roots, which can be traced back to musical traditions that were born in Africa. As rock and roll has evolved, African-American music has continued to be a major influence -- from funk to soul to hip-hop. Ten artists commissioned by the Arts League of Michigan created their visual interpretation of this musical evolution through various mediums. The exhibition used these art works, along with music and text to tell the story of the influential periods in the development of African-American music.

It’s Always Rock and Roll : The Photographs of Janet Macoska
For over 25 years, Cleveland-based photojournalist Janet Macoska has been capturing some of rock’s most legendary performers through the lens of her camera. Macoska has captured many artists who either got their start in Cleveland or found early fame here. Her work has appeared in CreemRolling StonePeople16Entertainment Weekly, the New York Times and the London Times. David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and the Kinks are just some of the artists who have used her photos on their CDs. Nearly 50 of her finest photographs were featured in this exhibition which also became a touring exhibit organized by the Museum.

2002

The Atlantic Story: 50 Years of Music
The Museum mounted a special exhibition in conjunction with a month-long program that paid tribute to Atlantic Records during Black History Month. This exhibit, a selection of photographs as seen in the book “What I’d Say” The Atlantic Story: 50 Years of Music, celebrated the anniversary of Atlantic and gave visitors a glimpse into the rise of rock and roll over the last fifty years. Atlantic was one of the first independent record labels and the home to many African-American artists, including Ray Charles, the Drifters and Aretha Franklin. This exhibit helped show the role that African-Americans played in the development of rock and roll.

In Their Own Write: The Original Lyrics to Some of Rock’s Greatest Songs
Image and style are important, but the legendary rock and rollers are remembered for their songs. Every artist has his or her own way of working, and every song has its own story. Some artists, like Jackson Browne and Paul Simon, work diligently, drafting and redrafting songs until they get them right, while others are able to knock out a classic in a matter of minutes. This exhibition of handwritten lyric manuscripts gave visitors an insight into the minds of the artists with their poetic, and sometimes emotional verse.

Fifty Years of Rock and Roll
This exhibit takes up most of the central area of the Museum’s main gallery. It is organized by decade and includes a large number of famous outfits worn onstage and on album covers. It also includes numerous instruments, some stage props and other large items. Each decade also includes a timeline of key events. Nearly 80 artists, many of them inductees, are represented in this exhibit.

Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues
To complement the annual American Music Masters program, the Museum created an exhibition that examined the life and musical legacy of Hank Williams. This was the largest artifact-based exhibit in Museum history focused on an early influence inductee. Artifacts in the exhibit included clothing worn by both Hank Williams and his wife Audrey, numerous original handwritten lyric manuscripts, recording and publishing contracts, three of his guitars and rare memorabilia. By examining Williams’ career, the Museum was able to show his tremendous influence on rock and roll, as well as rock’s roots in country & western music.  

The Art of Ron Wood
This featured the artwork of Ronnie Wood, legendary guitarist of the Rolling Stones. The exhibit included 25 prints and original paintings. The original paintings included “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Stones in Sepia” and “Slide on This.” The Museum also exhibited two pieces of art that had never been shown in the United States, “Study of Mick” and “Study of Keith.”

2001

Motown: Black History Month Exhibit
In conjunction with Black History Month programming, this exhibition featured photographs of many of Motown’s legendary artists, including the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Martha and the Vandellas, the Temptations, the Four Tops, among others.

Stuart Sutcliffe: From the Beatles to “Backbeat” 
An art-school buddy of John Lennon’s, Sutcliffe was one of the original Beatles, along with Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. In late 1960, after one of the Beatles’ stints in Hamburg, he chose to remain in Germany and quit the group to pursue his art career. In April 1962, he died of a brain hemorrhage. The exhibit, which was on loan from the Beatles Story museum in Liverpool, included letters, notes, set lists and other items documenting the Beatles’ earliest years, as well as one of Sutcliffe’s guitars and several of his paintings.

Guitar Exhibit 
Four new exhibit cases on the promenade level were created to showcase a variety of the Museum’s impressive guitars. A collection of guitars played by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead is featured in this exhibit. The exhibition can be viewed by the public without an admission charge.

Shake, Rattle and Roll: The Founders of Rock and Roll 
This exhibit featured award-winning paintings by artist Laura Levine depicting some of the pioneers of rock and roll.  The book for which these paintings were originally created introduces children to the founders of rock and roll with informative biographies by music journalist Holly George-Warren.  Thirteen of the 14 artists included in this book and exhibit are Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees including Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, LaVern Baker and the Everly Brothers.

Rock of Ages: The Early Influences
The updated and improved Rock of Ages exhibit enables the Museum to demonstrate the evolution of rock music more thoroughly then ever before. Through the use of photographs and listening stations, the exhibit helps visitors to understand how the many and varied strains of regional American music forms came together to create the most powerful form of popular music the world has known. The exhibit honors artists whose music has influenced the creation and development of rock and roll including inductees Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Jimmie Rodgers, Louis Armstrong, Woodie Guthrie, Louis Jordan and Bessie Smith, among others.

Bessie Smith and Women of the Blues
Mounted in conjunction with the Museum’s annual American Music Master’s Series, this photography exhibit paid tribute to Bessie Smith, “Empress of the Blues” and other blues women of the first half of the twentieth century, including Alberta Hunter, Mamie Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Ida Cox, Ma Rainey, Memphis Minnie and Billie Holiday.

From the Other Side of the Glass 
This exhibit featured the photography of noted record producer and engineer, Eddie Kramer. Over the years, Kramer worked on recording sessions with the Rolling Stones, Traffic, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and numerous other bands. During much of that time, he was also recording those sessions with his camera. This exhibit offered a rare and intimate look at some of rock’s biggest legends.

2000

Rave On: Rock and Roll’s Early Years 
This exhibit features a wide array of artifacts from the early years of rock and roll. The featured artists include Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, the Coasters, the Everly Brothers, the Drifters, Rick Nelson, Bobby Darin and Dion. Songwriters and producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are also featured in this exhibit. This section illustrates not only how the artists of the era brought together musical elements which became rock and roll, but also the events that occurred during the decade that shaped the course of the future of rock music.

Rock Style 
Organized in partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, this exhibition spotlighted classic rock and roll performers and their pervasive influence on fashion from the 1950s to the present. More than 50 major rock artists whose often-daring attire has shaped popular culture and style – including such icons as Madonna, Mick Jagger, the Beatles, Elvis and Bono – were represented by fashions lent by rock artists as well as from the collection of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The exhibit traveled to New York and London.

On the Charts 
This exhibition area features contemporary musical artists and is changed regularly to reflect what is “on the charts.”

Muddy Waters: Got My Mojo Working
Intended to complement the 2000 American Music Masters series, this exhibition included guitars, outfits, original recordings, photographs and a timeline covering the career of one of the greatest electric blues artists.

Jimi Hendrix Surround Sound Theater and Exhibit 
Created with the cooperation of the Hendrix family, this exhibit includes interactive kiosks, a timeline with family photos and rare single sleeves, guitars, costumes, original lyrics and other artifacts. In addition, the adjacent theater features a 15-minute program of live Hendrix music in Surround Sound and video monitors include an oral history done with Jimi’s father, Al Hendrix, which visitors can listen to with headphones.

John Lennon: His Life and Work 
This exhibition was time to coincide with what would have been John Lennon’s 60th birthday, as well as the 20th anniversary of his death. Put together with the full involvement of his estate, this was the single biggest exhibit of Lennon artifacts ever exhibited anywhere in the world. It included numerous guitars and famous costumes. It also included paintings, drawings, collages and other artwork. Most notably, however, were the displays featuring roughly 30 original lyric manuscripts.

1999

Love, Janis
This exhibition offered an intimate glimpse into the life of Janis Joplin through her personal letters written home and photographs taken by her family and friends.

Rockin’ All Over the World 
Over the decades, music scenes that emerged in different cities across the country and overseas have served as individual chapters in the history of rock and roll. This exhibition tells the story of several of these scenes in the cities of Memphis, Detroit, Liverpool, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, New York and Seattle.

Linda McCartney’s Sixties: Portrait of an Era  
This exhibit, organized by the Estate of Linda McCartney in conjunction with the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut, consisted of nearly fifty images, both color and black and white, taken by Linda McCartney.  The photos reflect the cultural landscape of the late Sixties, representing artists from a broad range of popular music, including soul, R&B, blues and rock and roll.

Daniel Kramer Photographs of Bob Dylan 
Photographer Daniel Kramer was given the unique opportunity to photograph Bob Dylan in private and in performance at one of the high points of his career, August 1964 to August 1965. Included in the exhibition were photographs featured on the album covers of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Biograph. This exhibit was organized in cooperation with the Govinda Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Roots, Rhymes and Rage: The Hip-Hop Story 
This exhibit engaged visitors in the music, language and lifestyle of hip-hop culture, exploring the history, as well as hip-hop’s social, political and economic influence on virtually every aspect of American popular culture. Created as a traveling exhibit it went to additional venues in Brooklyn, San Francisco and Chicago.

1998

Elvis Is in the Building
This exhibit about the "King of Rock and Roll" ran from August 8, 1998 to September 5, 1999. This year-long tribute was the first ever special exhibit devoted to a single artist, Elvis Presley, the first inductee into the Hall of Fame in 1986. The show featured over 100 artifacts culled from Graceland’s archives and the collections of Presley associates like Colonel Tom Parker and Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. It was the single largest Elvis exhibition ever to appear outside of Memphis.

Respect: The Sound of Soul
This exhibit is devoted to the greats of soul music and includes recent acquisitions from James Brown, Otis Redding, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Curtis Mayfield, Jackie Wilson, Sam and Dave, Al Green, and Booker T. and the MGs, among others.

U Got the Look
This display traced the history of rock and roll fashion through an original film, featuring Iggy Pop, as well as original stage costumes. The exhibit explored rock and roll style and its influence on street fashion and trends emulated by the youth of the day.

1997

I Want to Take You Higher: The Psychedelic Era, 1965-1969
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Summer of Love, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum launched a major exhibition examining how rock & roll came of age in the late 1960s and influenced everything from fashion and art to politics and literature. I Want to Take You Higher was the first temporary exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The show explored the music, politics, style, and art from the era, as well as their impact on society. The exhibit encompassed more than 500 artifacts, from record album covers and original Woodstock posters to Jimi Hendrix’s guitar and John Lennon’s Rolls Royce. Additionally, the exhibit focused on the cities of London and San Francisco, and artists John Lennon and Janis Joplin. The exhibit was held in the Ahmet Ertegun Exhibition Hall, where a flower-shaped floor plan was established. Each petal of the flower encompassed a year of the era, individual displays within focused on particular aspects or events:

  • 1965 was rendered in black and white, much like the low tech posters of the day.
  • 1966 was all about video and the explosion of drugs and lifestyle
  • 1967 was all about the music; perhaps the most significant year of rock & roll albums in the history of the music
  • 1968 was about fashion; polka dots set the mood for this year
  • 1969 was all about Woodstock, the defining musical and cultural event of the 1960’s

The stem of the flower was lined with band names of the era, and the center of the flower is a spiral of music - the "Psychedelic 100," curated by James Fricke. It added up to a singular experience for an incomparable period in music and modern American culture. As Jann Wenner said, "it’s an exhibit worth licking."

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